SQL Server professionals are fortunate to have SQL Server Books Online (BOL) as a resource. BOL covers basic syntax, best practices, and implementation concepts, and provides a surprising amount of detailed internals and architectural information. A quick keyword search of BOL will often provide the answers to your SQL Server questions, and finding your own answer is the best way to learn. The information you retrieve for yourself will stick with you longer and be more valuable than information a colleague spoon-feeds you.

Microsoft has released an update of BOL that includes the complete documentation that shipped with SQL Server 2000 plus revisions. The latest BOL edition is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=a6f79cb1-a420-445f-8a4b-bd77a7da194b&displaylang=en#filelist . The updated documentation includes corrections of documentation errors reported after the release of the last update, new and updated error messages, additions to BOL for SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) functionality, and suggestions that customers sent to Microsoft. Each BOL topic that contains new material has a tag at the top of the page that says, "Topic last updated-January 2004." Searching for that tag returns a list of 202 new or modified topics.

The installation program lets you upgrade the SQL Server installation media's original version of BOL or install a separate standalone copy. Be aware that you can't have two standalone copies. BOL's installation program will detect the existing copy and give you the option of upgrading only the standalone copy, only the original version, or both.

Being a SQL Server MVP means that I make the effort to answer as many questions on the public newsgroups as possible. There are no stupid questions, especially when they come from novices who are genuinely trying to improve their skills. I'll help anyone who asks—regardless of skill level—but I want to encourage you to help yourself whenever possible. Too often I provide support when a quick search of BOL using the obvious keywords would give the exact answer the user is looking for. Kudos to those of you who've already developed a taste for browsing BOL. To the rest of you, do yourself a favor and explore the rich resources BOL contains. Happy reading!